HELENA — Troy Purcell was announced as Carroll College's new football coach at a Friday morning press conference on campus.
Purcell just finished his third year as an Idaho assistant, where he coached linebackers, tight ends and special teams with the Vandals.
Purcell is a Helena Capital High alum who coached Bozeman High to three state titles and Havre to a state championship.
"I stand here before you with great confidence that we are introducing to you a coach in Troy Purcell, who will lead Carroll's tradition in football to new heights," said Charlie Gross, Carroll College athletic director.
Legendary coach Mike Van Diest retired at the end of this past season after 20 seasons. Carroll College had won six NAIA national titles and 14 Frontier Conference championships under Van Diest, but the programs suffered four straight losing seasons.
Purcell will be the 21st coach in Carroll history, and will be the third in the last 47 years at Carroll. He replaces Van Diest and Bobby Petrino Sr., who coached from 1971-1998. The duo combined for 366 wins.
"I'm excited to spread the mission of Carroll College and continue the tradition of excellence here but I have big shoes to fill," Purcell said. "I don't know if there has ever been two hall of fame men and coaches like Bob Petrino and Mike Van Diest."
Purcell contributed to a run of success while playing at Carroll. He played under Petrino from 1986-1990, where he earned an all-conference recognition his senior year. The Saints won four conference championships and made the NAIA playoffs each season Purcell suited up.
Purcell comes to the helm with the Saints after being an assistant at Idaho under Paul Petrino. With Purcell on the sidelines, the Vandals won the 2016 Idaho Famous Potato Bowl.
This past season, the Vandals excelled on special teams. Idaho held the best punt return average in the Big Sky Conference at 17 yards per return and netted best yards per punt (40) in the conference. The kickoff coverage was ranked No. 2 in the Big Sky.
“I have received input from multiple people who know and have worked with coach Purcell and every response has been overwhelmingly positive,” Carroll President Dr. John Cech said. “He is passionate, has tremendous energy and his enthusiasm is contagious. Troy will be a great bridge between the players and teams from the most successful periods of Carroll College football, coached by Bob Petrino and Mike Van Diest.”
Success has followed Purcell throughout his football career. As the coach of Bozeman High from 2005-2016, Purcell guided the Hawks to three Class AA state championships in 2010, 2013 and 2015.
Prior to that, the Hawks last state championship came in 1917. Under Purcell, the Hawks finished runner-up another season, earned three divisional championships and advanced to the quarterfinals three times.
Purcell became a five-time Montana High School AA Coach of the Year in Bozeman and coached in two East-West Shrine games. He served as the coach in the Mon-Dak All-Star game once.
Purcell coached current Seattle Seahawk Will Dissly and current San Francisco 49er Brock Coyle while they prepped in Bozeman.
Purcell coached the Blue Ponies of Havre to a run of success before Bozeman. He posted a 40-13 record at Havre and broke a championship drought with a title in 2004. Havre’s last championship prior to that came in 1970.
The Blue Ponies made four playoff appearances and twice went to the semifinals, with two Central Conference championships and a state runner-up finish under Purcell.
He became the Montana High School Class A Coach of the Year and was named twice as the Central Conference Coach of the Year. While leading Havre, he coached in the East-West Shrine Game as the coach and in the Mon-Dak All-Star Game.
The standouts he coached in Havre included NFL Pro Bowler Marc Mariani and Saints championship quarterback Gary Wagner.
He started his Montana coaching career in Eureka for Lincoln County High in 1994, serving as the coach until 1999. There he went 32-23, won three District 6 championships and made the playoffs six times.
He cracked into coaching in 1991 at Regis High in Stayton, Oregon. He posted a 22-9 record there and won two Tri-River Conference championships, while once being named the Tri-River Coach of the Year.
Purcell played football at Capital and became an all-state selection in 1985 and all-conference in 1984 and 1985.
Purcell and his wife Krista have one daughter, Brooklyn. Purcell received a degree in elementary education and health enhancement from Carroll College in 1990. He obtained a master’s degree in learning development from Montana State-Northern in 2010.